1. Content – we start the initial blog with a some very geographically specific real content, with the extensive links and spam ads from the original source removed. It is not as hard as you think to create a better search result than is already there, for instance, city-data.org ranks for most city-state-demographic searches. They are simply republishing public domain information from the US census and other sources. But the data is full of ads, links out, and other less than relevant information. They are huge, and deep, with data on every city, but formatting that data in a more search engine friendly and less spam-ridden way is easily done. Another example of a source for some initially useful local data to get things started is wherevent.com. One can pull some useful and current local events and announcements from Facebook, where the promoters will appreciate the exposure, and salt the playing field thus. This not only starts off some local optimization and begins feeding local traffic to the blog immediately, it also provides a valuable resource for those visitors, reducing bounce rate.
2. A Facebook group, and perhaps a Google+ community – nobody wants to buy anything, but everyone wants to join something. By creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of the largest affinity group in town, you are creating something that many people are looking for online, and ways to connect, befriend, and otherwise network to extend reach – this methodology, with you as the facilitator and moderator, extends your reach, and further adds to the stickiness of the page and the overall value statement for the blog participation, further reducing bounce rate for the visitors who go to the blog. The more and longer people visit the site, the more valuable it is perceived to be by those visitors, and the search robots and social networks who now track such things.
3. A value statement – there are already way too many social networks and blogs already out there if there is no unique value statement – I.E. you must give people an actual reason to participate. This can be visionary, or actual. For instance, the prediction that the blog will be large, popular, or dominant in search are all reasons to take notice. For example: we like to offer the statement, which is usually true, that our Facebook groups become one of the largest in town quickly; and we also offer to make anything they post (even by email) to the Facebook groups searchable on Google by reposting it all to the blogs (another source of local content); we also moderate and reduce spam by having rules that keep the noise (spam) down. Without a stated and perceived benefit, nobody will participate in your blog. Ask yourself this question: if it were not your blog, why would YOU participate?! The realistic answer to that questions, is the beginning of your value statement, your proverbial “Hook” in fishing terms.
4. An offer – it never ceases to amaze me that so many people create valuable resources online without any way to get paid for it. Whomever your audience, future audience, intended audience, or existing audience is, say so; and give people a way to reach that audience for some price! That price may be cash, pennies, opinions, or participation; but whatever the goal, ASK! Always make the benefits out weigh the cost, but by all means, ask for the money, participation, or whatever is is that you are dong this for.
5. An audience – this is the hardest one. People are gregarious, we all want an audience. But a new blog has no audience, right? Wrong! You have friends, relatives, connections, something. Find a way to start out with a lot of faces looking back at the first visitor. We do this with WordPress MU, where all the blogs share one 1300+ user group, and each new one has all of us looking back at the first visitor, asking them to join!
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